States cannot drop cases: CEC

States cannot drop cases: CEC

BJP Govt had withdrawn cases filed by CEO in 2008, 2009 polls

States cannot drop cases: CEC

Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla at the Zonal Conference of Chief Electoral Officers (South Zone) in Bangalore on Wednesday. DH Photo

“The cases should be decided in courts. They cannot be withdrawn,” the CEC told the media when a question was asked in this regard. He was in Bangalore to chair a two-day conference of the Chief Electoral Officers of southern States.

The Yeddyurappa Government has withdrawn several cases slapped by the Office of Chief Electoral Officer, Karnataka, during 2008 assembly and 2009 parliamentary elections in the State, claiming that the State cabinet has the power to do so. Cases withdrawn include those on Bellary ministers of G Janardhana Reddy and S Sriramulu.

Paid News

Chawla said the ECI will shortly come out with a set of guidelines to put a check on the menace of paid news.

“Presently, the ECI is working with the Press Council of India in this regard. There is a need to define paid news and look into the legislative provisions. The PIC is preparing a detailed report on this,” he added.

On making voting compulsory, the CEC said it is almost impossible to implement it. “About 42 per cent people do not vote. The ECI does not have the machinery to impose fine on about 200 million people who do not vote. Most voters belong to unorganised sector. It is difficult to reach them. Moreover, Parliament has to take a call on it,” he pointed out.

Instead, Election Commissioner S Y Qureshi said there is a need to intensify the educational campaigns. The ECI’s “Pappu Doesn't Vote” campaign to bring in awareness on the voting was successful in Delhi.

“Nobody wanted to be branded as Pappu (simpleton). So, there was a decent voter turn out in a recent polls in Delhi,” he explained adding that the campaign will be conducted in all major cities of the country.

Urban apathy

Urban apathy to the electoral process has been the biggest concern. There is a lot of indifference among urban people to enlist their names in the electoral rolls or delete it or to get electoral photo identity cards.

“There are people who sit in their drawing rooms and comment on the political system. They never bother about their duty to vote. Such people are a shame and an embarrassment to democracy,” he said.

During the two-day conference, the ECI discussed, among others subjects the forthcoming Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry States.

Payment to go up

Chawla further said the ECI has decided to provide higher remuneration to officials who take part in the election process. “We want to make election work remunerative...We have already directed all State Governments to provide better remuneration,” he said, while not disclosing details.

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